Steelfisher G.,Harvard Opinion Research Program |
Blendon R.,Harvard University |
Ross L.J.,Centers for Disease Control and Prevention |
Collins B.C.,Centers for Disease Control and Prevention |
And 3 more authors.
Biosecurity and Bioterrorism
An attack with Bacillus anthracis ("anthrax") is a known threat to the United States. When weaponized, it can cause inhalation anthrax, the deadliest form of the disease. Due to the rapid course of inhalation anthrax, delays in initiation of antibiotics may decrease survival chances. Because a rapid response would require cooperation from the public, there is a need to understand the public's response to possible mass dispensing programs. To examine the public's response to a mass prophylaxis program, this study used a nationally representative poll of 1,092 adults, supplemented by a targeted focus on 3 metropolitan areas where anthrax attacks occurred in 2001: New York City (n=517), Washington, DC (n=509), and Trenton/Mercer County, NJ (n=507). The poll was built around a "worst-case scenario" in which cases of inhalation anthrax are discovered without an identified source and the entire population of a city or town is asked to receive antibiotic prophylaxis within a 48-hour period. Findings from this poll provide important signs of public willingness to comply with public health recommendations for obtaining antibiotics from a dispensing site, although they also indicate that public health officials may face several challenges to compliance, including misinformation about the contagiousness of inhalation anthrax; fears about personal safety in crowds; distrust of government agencies to provide sufficient, safe, and effective medicine; and hesitation about ingesting antibiotic pills after receiving them. In general, people living in areas where anthrax attacks occurred in 2001 had responses similar to those of the nation as a whole. © Copyright 2011, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. Source
Steelfisher G.K.,Harvard Opinion Research Program |
Blendon R.J.,Harvard Opinion Research Program |
Brule A.S.,Harvard Opinion Research Program |
Ben-Porath E.N.,Harvard Opinion Research Program |
And 2 more authors.
Biosecurity and Bioterrorism
The 2001 anthrax attacks emphasized the need to develop outreach that would more effectively support racial/ethnic minority populations during a bioterrorism incident. Given the importance of antibiotic prophylaxis in a future anthrax attack, it should be a priority to better support racial/ethnic minorities in mass dispensing programs. To examine the needs and perspectives of racial/ethnic minorities, this study used a nationally representative poll of 1,852 adults, including 1,240 whites, 261 African Americans, and 282 Hispanics. The poll examined public reactions to a a ̃â ̃worst-case scenario" in which cases of inhalation anthrax are discovered without an identified source and the entire population of a city or town is asked to receive antibiotic prophylaxis within 48 hours. Findings suggest willingness across all racial/ethnic groups to comply with recommendations to seek prophylaxis at dispensing sites. However, findings also indicate possible barriers for racial/ethnic minorities, including greater concern about pill safety and multiple attacks as well as lesser knowledge about inhalation anthrax. Across all racial/ethnic groups, roughly half would prefer to receive antibiotics at mass dispensing sites rather than through the US Postal Service. People in racial/ethnic minority groups were more likely to say this preference stems from a desire to speak with staff or to exchange medication formulation or type. Findings suggest the need for tailored outreach to racial/ethnic minorities through, for example, emphasis on key messages and enhanced understandability in communications, increased staff for answering questions in relevant dispensing sites, and long-term trust building with racial/ethnic minority communities. © 2012, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. Source